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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77070 Find in a Library
Title: Patrol Decentralization - An Assessment
Journal: Journal of Police Science and Administration  Volume:9  Issue:1  Dated:(March 1981)  Pages:48-60
Author(s): W A Kerstetter
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 13
Sponsoring Agency: Clarence Day Foundation
Memphis, TN 38111
Police Foundation
Washington, DC 20036
University of Chicago
Chicago, IL 60637
Type: Program/Project Evaluation
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Results are reported from a study of patrol decentralization in five urban police departments, in order to determine the benefits and costs of this policy.
Abstract: The decentralization of authority is the key structural element in team policing. Patrol decentralization involves the delegation of authority to units that are geographically rather than temporally organized. The geographic area of the unit is substantially smaller than the entire jurisdiction. The authority delegated usually includes the power to determine the number of officers to work each shift; the particular duty assignments of these officers; and the enforcement tactics, strategy, and priorities. The first phase of the study that assessed the benefits and costs of decentralization consisted of indepth interviews of police officials and observations of police operations in Hartford, Conn. After completing the Hartford field work, shorter studies were conducted in four other urban jurisdictions that had adopted variations of team policing, all having patrol decentralization as a key element. Patrol decentralization, as experienced in the five cities studied, resulted in better relationships between the police and their respective communities, which in turn had a positive impact on crime prevention and control in some instances. Further, decentralization increased the managerial capacity of some of the departments by more effectively involving middle managers in the delivery of police services and by serving as a vehicle of organizational development. One of the disadvantages of decentralization is the sense of disjointedness that arises within some departments, and problems of organizational coordination appear inherent in the structure. Other disadvantages include an intentional diminution of senior managerial control, decreased flexibility in allocating resources to meet varying service demands, and the creation of expectations that require a certain level of manpower to satisfy. Tabular data and references are provided.
Index Term(s): Cost effectiveness analysis; Decentralization; Patrol; Police management; Police manpower deployment; Police organizational structure; Program evaluation; Team policing
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